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The Senate health bill is popular with groups that want to cut taxes

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) Speaks Out Against The GOP Health Care Bill At Bellevue Hospital In New York Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Republicans’ bills to repeal and replace Obamacare are overwhelmingly unpopular in public polling, and among many industry lobbyists. But they’re still popular with groups that want to see the bills’ tax cuts go through.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, has urged Republican lawmakers to support the repeal-and-replace bills all along.

On Tuesday, the chamber threw its support behind the Better Care Reconciliation Act — the Senate’s health bill — saying the proposal would be “preserving and improving the employer-sponsored health care system while also ensuring that those outside the employer-based system have access to multiple, affordable options for coverage.”

It also noted how the bill would benefit insurance companies and industries hit by the taxes that were levied to fund Obamacare:

The BCRA will repeal the most egregious taxes and mandates of the ACA, which will help lower the cost of health care coverage and allow employers to create jobs. The bill repeals the medical device tax that unfairly penalizes American manufacturers, and zeros out the employer mandate penalties.

The chamber’s “key vote alert” letter alludes to the fundamental structure of the Republican health bill: a proposal that cuts Medicaid, a health service for poorer Americans and the disabled and elderly, by $772 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, to pay for the tax cuts on high-income people, fees on manufacturers, and Obamacare’s excise taxes.

Basically the chamber is saying this bill will reduce the burden on health insurance companies and manufacturers — with less focus on how it might impact the American people in need of health care.

This bill could cause millions in employer-based coverage losses

The chamber also lauded the health bill for preserving “the employer-sponsored health care system that 177 million Americans depend on for quality coverage.”

But that’s not exactly what the CBO projected would happen. Instead, its evaluation of the health bill projects that it would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured, and not only in Obamacare’s individual markets.

Under Obamacare, employers who did not offer insurance face penalties. The Senate bill repeals that provision — and the CBO projected there would be up to 4 million fewer people with employer-based insurance in 2018, and upward of 9 million fewer by 2022.

In other words, the CBO estimated that “eliminating that penalty would cause some employers to not offer health insurance”:

Similarly, the demand for insurance among employees is greater under current law because some employees want employment-based coverage so that they can avoid paying the individual mandate penalty. Eliminating that penalty would reduce such demand and would cause some employers to not offer coverage or some employees to not enroll in coverage they were offered.

The system would be preserved, yes. But it would cover fewer people.

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